Winter Hummingbirds

Winter Hummingbirds in Ohio …  Ruby-throated?  … or not?

That is the question that has become familiar in the past few years after Winter sightings of Anna’s, Rufous, Calliope, Green Violet-eared and Rufous Hummingbird have occurred in Ohio. This has been in recent years!

A total of 14 species have now been accounted for in the eastern U.S. thanks, in part, to hummingbird banders confirming these confusing winter visitors. The best time to find rare species in our area is after the “Ruby-throats” have migrated away. This will typically occur after November 15 which is considered the “magic cutoff date” for lingering Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. In some instances a few “Ruby-throats” may linger past this date, but the chances of that occurring are quite small. The first of the adult male Rufous Hummingbirds can appear in the eastern United States as early as mid to late July. Any Hummer in your yard with a brown back is a male Rufous. (“HBSG”)

 If you see a lone hummingbird, there is a high probability that it will turn out to be something other than a Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Keep a feeder out through early January.

Contact our OH/IN/MI winter hummingbird bander if you see a hummingbird at your feeder from November through the winter season!

Photo courtesy Jim McCormac

(click for additional photos of this Rufous Hummingbird)

Photos by T. K. Tolford

Click the photo for more detailed photos and i.d. characteristics.

Rufous Hummingbird Photo by Bob Foppe. 

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird
Green Violet-eared Hummingbird


For sightings of Western Hummingbirds in the OH/KY/IN Cincinnati Tri-state click to send an e-mail or call 513-200-5130



We have documented fourteen western species in the eastern United States; Rufous, Black-chinned, Allen’s, Anna’s, Calliope, Buff-bellied, Broad-tailed, White-eared, Green Violet-ear, Magnificent, Green-breasted Mango, Broad-billed, and Costa’s. More of these species, than we previously realized, may be waiting to be discovered during the winter in Ohio. We just haven’t known that we should have been looking! 

So be sure to leave your feeder out all winter, keep it clean and maintained and where you can view it easily. If the nectar is going down in the feeder, you may have a winter visitor. Watch it for awhile to see what is making the nectar dissappear. 


Don’t worry about leaving nectar out in the winter. You will not make the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds stay if you leave your feeder out in winter. They will migrate whether or not you have a feeder out.


For other sightings in the Eastern U.S. click here for a list of who to contact.



The following is a quote by a hummingbird expert/researcher of 20+ year who has banded over 70,000 hummingbirds

“I think the big killer of wintering hummingbirds UP NORTH is the long periods of sustained

cold that adversely effect the availability of the insect life which is critical. Species

or individual hummingbirds that do not move southward in periods of sustained cold

and reduced food resources pay the ultimate price. They also do not pass on bad

genetic traits to another generation of offspring.

There is great wisdom in this scenario that has always, in my opinion,

constantly improved the survival of these species. It is also why human intervention,

again in my strong opinion, is the wrong approach.”


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